Marvin A. Tort
Tourism has great potential as a driver of Philippine economic growth. One doesn’t have to look far to realize the beauty of the country geographically and culturally, and what it has to offer the outside world. Local beaches, in particular, are major come-ons to vacationers worldwide.
The issue is infrastructure. Time and time again the government has been asked to put more money in facilities, transportation, logistics and security to provide for easier and safer travelling to and around the country by local and foreign tourists. Even the so-called holiday economics can be more beneficial if tourism infrastructure is vast and competent.
The Korean phenomenon is a clear example of the
Obviously, Department of Tourism (DOT) officials also realize the industry’s great potential. In fact, in a news report yesterday, one official was quoted as saying that targets have already been raised for 2008: 5 million inbound tourists from more than 3 million in 2007; and, $5.8 billion in tourism receipts from $4.8 billion last year—although all these were set before the recent stock-market crash in the United States, which adversely affected markets worldwide.
In its year-end report for 2007, the DOT said it was setting its sights on high-value tourists going to areas such as the Bicol Region and Western, Central and Eastern Visayas; specifically, the islands of Palawan, Romblon, Camiguin and Siargao—all major beach areas. After all, beaches are the main attraction in the tropics, so why not push that? The
Last year was a relatively good year for Philippine tourism. For the first time ever, foreign arrivals breached the 3-million mark to hit 3.09 million, while tourist expenditure reportedly grew 40.99 percent to reach $4.885 billion, surpassing the $3.78-billion target. In its report, the DOT noted that in 2007 the core markets included
The 2008 targets would not be that easy to achieve, considering some challenges. Even the DOT noted that fiercer competition in
And as more tourists are enticed to visit the
The plus side is that tourism is now earning more, given, among other things, the longer average stay of tourists to 17 nights from a previous 12 nights. As such, in the short-term, the DOT plans to maximize the use of existing airports, hotels and transportation as additional investments in infrastructure are sought. Squeezed to the last drop, so to speak.
Anyway, things are still looking up. Arrivals from
One can only hope that more public and private investments can soon find their way to tourism infrastructure. More hotels, obviously, would do the